Category Archives: Writing

There are only so many storylines…

I found this image on the internet (unfortunately there was no attribution to it) and found it not only hilarious but very telling. I’ve read somewhere that there are really only seven plots in all literature. This is a small confirmation of it.

Harry Potter and Star Wars

I found the image at

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Jack is coming back: it’s Meter Destiny

md_cover.jpgYes, for all those who are following my adventures, I’ll be relating another one in Meter Destiny, coming out this Fall. Here’s a bit of a tease:

Ambrose peered at me, an amused grin on his face. It was clear that he knew exactly what I was thinking. “Ever hear of the three Fates, Mr. Meter?”
“As in the Greek goddesses who determine and control the length of each person’s life?”
“I’m impressed. Most people don’t know about them.”
“Classical education. My mother hoped I’d become a priest.”
“Ha! It didn’t take, I see.”
“Nothing’s wasted.”
Ambrose nodded. “I knew you were a smart one. I’m gonna need a smart buck if I want to get out of this mess. What else do you know about them?”
“That’s about all I remember.”
“Hmm. Let me expand, then. There’s Clotho, who’s in charge of spinning the thread of life. She calls herself Linda, these days. Lachesis, or Cam, coordinates the measurement of that thread. Atropos has the hardest job. She decides when and where to cut. When to end a life. That’s why they often call her the Crone. Hard to accept getting snuffed by a beautiful woman.”
“Atropos, she has another name, too?”
“Okay. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa. What do the Fates have to do with me?”
“Don’t you get it? That’s what CompuLife is all about, man. Spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life of humans. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa are in charge of the process.”
“They don’t think they’re goddesses, I hope.”
“Their identities have never been in question. They’ve been the same people for thousands of years.”
I suppressed another sigh and tried to find a gracious way of getting out of there. Maybe reason would work. “How many people are on Earth, these days? Billions. They must be really busy women.”
“Don’t be a smart ass, boy. We use sophisticated tools these days.” His eyes glazed over with nostalgia. “It was real easy in the beginning. Only a few hundred thousand people, the girls could finish the job by lunchtime. They could have leisure activities, rest up. There was laughter around, and a certain ease. Then Linda got ambitious and got a frame spinner, and that meant more people to manage. We had to hire staff. Project management wasn’t her strongpoint. She let the production run 24/7. You can imagine what that did to the workload. With population growth, it soon became apparent that whoever had thought of the trio system hadn’t done any long-term planning. The girls started fighting amongst themselves, Cam and Ialysa went on strike for a while. I tell you, it was a real mess. We got backed up. Population explosion’s not good. Brings out all sorts of problems. So we had to introduce the plague. Had to do that a couple times more, after that. Drastic way to control population, but there you have it. Even then, we’ve never been able to control increases in the same efficient manner. There’s this complicated formula Cam expressed to explain the problem, but I’ll be damned if I understand it.”
I took a large sip of brandy. Even a year ago, I’d have thought either the old man was trying to scam me or he was delusional. Best scenario, someone was playing a joke on me, but I didn’t think so. All I knew was that I wasn’t running out of the room screaming. I wasn’t sure where Javed’s baloney led, but that damned curiosity of mine would kill me one day. “You still haven’t explained how they manage the lives of billions of people.”
Ambrose grunted. “Ever heard of Oracle?”
“The lady of Delphi or the database?”
He threw me a disgusted glance. “Of course the database. We created that. Meaning the Fates, of course. I just run the business side of it.”
“Dropping the name of a well-known database isn’t quite convincing, I’m afraid, even if the name touches on destiny.”
“We’ll visit the data centre once we’re finished here.”
I took another sip of brandy then looked deep into the fire. Now I understood why he’d sent a thug to bring me here at gunpoint. “Okay, let’s say I believe you. What do you want from me?
“Want?” he barked. “What I want is for you to find Ialysa. She’s been kidnapped.”
“Let me think. Ialysa’s the one who cuts the threads, right? Maybe she simply went on strike again.”
“Cheeky bastard. Didn’t you listen to anything I said? You can laugh as much as you want, but this situation is catastrophic. Oh, we can carry on for a while without her, but our system needs constant, minute decisions. Unless you find her and get her back to us, the Earth will continue to fill up, but no one’s gonna die. No one. Ever again. Now, how funny do you find that?”

©2007 M. D. Benoit

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Win a signed copy of Meter Made

Jack Meter, the private investigator in my SF mystery series The Jack Meter Case Files, loves to eat. Beside opera, it’s his favorite thing. Not only does he love to eat, but he loves to cook.

In his next adventure, Meter Destiny, Jack has settled into an apartment and has returned to his habit of cooking for comfort and thinking through cases. Jack is not a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy (unless it’s Chateaubriand with Mediterranean roasted potatoes): he likes fish, game, chicken, anything that tastes really good but that he can prepare in less than 45 minutes.

He’s running out of ideas, though, and he doesn’t have time to consult cookbooks to find new recipes. Ialysa, one of the Fates of Mythology, is missing, which is creating havoc on Earth; the telecarb he doesn’t have anymore is giving him twinges; and he thinks Isabel Giordani, his new and beautiful neighbour, may have him in her sights. Too much to think about, too little time.

So I’ve decided to run a recipe contest for Jack. The three best recipe authors (which Jack and I will choose) will receive a signed copy of Meter Made, the second book in the Jack Meter Case Files Series. I will also mention one of the three recipes, along with your name, in the next book after Meter Destiny, Meter Parents. Contest ends August 19th, 11:59pm EST.

What you do:

Submit a favorite recipe in the comments section, leaving your name or username and email address where I can reach you.


  • recipes must take no more than 45 minutes to prepare and cook
  • ethnic recipes are encouraged; the sky’s the limit
  • Jack likes fresh, so nothing out of a can if possible (he hates anything made with cans of soup or pouches, like hamburger helper — he’s watching his fat and salt intake)
  • meat (especially red) is not a must
  • no desserts, please. Jack doesn’t have a sweet tooth

Comments on the contest are also welcome. Good luck!

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Beginning in the middle

If you’re a reader, you know that most stories don’t begin when the main character is born, following him/her through childhood and teenage years, etc. unless that’s the purpose of the story. Stories begin in the middle of people’s lives, they assume a background (which the writer may hint at or develop during the story), an already formed personality, friends, family or lack thereof, a place to live in, a path chosen. Authors usually concentrate on one slice of life, even when they write a family saga. That’s why the first sentence of a book is so important.

The first sentence allows you to jump in the middle but also to hook the readers and prompt them to read the next sentence, then the next, then the next…

John Gardner was a master at the first sentence. Here are a few of his most intriguing ones:

“One day in April–a clear, blue day when there were crocuses in bloom–Jack Hawthorne rand over and killed his brother, David.” (Redemption)

“I had been troubled for days–odd sounds, objects our of place, all the pitiful and mundane symptoms of a disordered mind, symptoms I know all too well, coming as I do from a family of lunatics, as everyone knows–when a few odd phrases in a book on aesthetics threw everything into sharp new perspective.” (The Library Horror)

“There once was a man who made pictures on boxes.” (Vlemk the Box-painter)

“There used to be a cook in our town, a “chef” he was called in the restaurant where he worked–one of those big, dark Italian places with red fake-leather seat cushions, fake paintings on the walls, and on every table a Chianti bottle with a candle in it–but he preferred to think of himself as simply a cook, since he’d never been comfortable with high-falutin pretense, or so he claimed, though heaven knew the world was full of it, and since, whereas he knew what cooking was, all he knew for sure about chefs, he said, was that they wore those big, obsene-looking hats, which he himself wouldn’t be caught dead in.” (The Art of Living)

Now jump in the middle of ten stories by writing the first sentence of it:

  1. The first time I met my future husband, I disliked him on sight.
  2. Sally hated her name; she said it was a dog’s name, or even a horse’s name, but certainly not a girl’s name.
  3. Squeezed between the mountains to the south, and the tundra to the north, there lives a village with no personality.
  4. We all are prisoners of our memories; reality and history do not necessarily coincide.
  5. Torver Lockwood checked his watch. Damn, he thought, I blinked and another year disappeared.
  6. That night, Lucy began to plot ways of getting rid of all the kids she had to watch over.
  7. Sam Trudeau had not sold a car for three weeks now, and he was afraid he might have lost the magic.
  8. The road to Quepos slices through the mountains before it plunges, like a pearl diver, to sea level.
  9. “If you knew my secret,” said Lando the Magician, “it would damn you along with me.”
  10. “In the name of His Majesty, King George V, you are hereby sentenced to hang by the neck until death.”
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